It’s an uncomfortable truth that while a third of the world’s food is wasted, one in nine people do not have enough to eat. In a bid to redress this balance, a socially conscious Spanish food producer is turning Europe’s surplus fruit and vegetables into a nutritionally enriched, easy-to-digest and 100% natural foodstuff for people in need.
Thanks to equipment and support from HRS Heat Exchangers, Nutripeople can now produce 42 million pouches of its products each year, helping those in developing countries to avoid hunger and malnutrition.
An alternative approach to food waste
Anyone associated with the food industry is aware of the global food waste crisis. Latest figures from the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) show that approximately 1.3 billion tonnes of food are lost or wasted every year – roughly one-third of all the food produced for human consumption.
At the same time, 795 million people across the world do not have enough to eat, with those in developing countries being the most vulnerable.
Established in 2015 as a social enterprise, Nutripeople has formed alliances with some of Spain’s leading fruit and vegetable producers to turn their surplus produce into a new foodstuff with a high nutritional value, thanks to the addition of natural additives such as vegetable proteins and vitamins.
Its target customers are global organisations fighting hunger such as UNICEF and Oxfam, as well as food banks closer to home. A percentage of each sale also goes directly to social projects or NGOs dedicated to feeding those most in need.
In addition to the social benefits, the project also aids the circular economy. It takes on average 963 litres of water to produce one kilogram of fruit, not to mention the associated labour and transport costs and carbon emissions. Recovering this produce and reusing it elsewhere helps to preserve vital resources and reduce the carbon footprint involved in food production.
A turnkey solution
In order to turn the surplus fruit and vegetables it receives into finished food pouches, Nutripeople commissioned HRS Heat Exchangers to install a simple, cost-effective production line at its factory in Murcia.
After evaluating HRS’ experience in fruit processing and visiting a number of its reference sites across Europe, as well as comparing it with other suppliers, HRS was the obvious choice for Nutripeople; particularly as they were able to supply all the necessary equipment and technical expertise.
The first stage in the production process is the mixing line, where the fruit and vegetables are pre-heated and blended with proteins and vitamins to enrich their nutritional value.
“We supplied two tanks complete with mixers, a heating jacket and a high shear stirrer, as well as a series of pumps,” explains Francisco Hernández Ortiz, Food Business Development Director at HRS.
The product then passes through a homogeniser, also supplied by HRS, which exerts pressure of up to 200 bar, before being pasteurised at temperatures of up to 95oC via HRS’ R Series scraped surface heat exchangers.
“The hygienic R Series range is ideal for pasteurising viscous products such as fruit and vegetables, where fouling can occur, as the rotating movement of the scrapers mixes the product whilst cleaning the heat exchange surface,” adds Francisco. “This keeps heat transfer high and reduces downtime.”
Finally, the finished products, which have a shelf life of two years without refrigeration, are filled into low-cost, environmentally friendly pouches, ready for distribution.
In safe hands
“We have been delighted with HRS’ turnkey approach and their practical solutions for keeping our production line as simple and efficient as possible,” says Enrique Gómez Gómez, founder of Nutripeople.
“We wanted to keep the process simple as we intend to replicate it in other locations, to make the most of local fruit and vegetable resources. HRS listened to our requirements and recommended a solution which has proved ideal for our needs, giving us the capacity to produce 42 million pouches a year. From the first enquiry to final commissioning took just seven months, and the line has now been fully functional since October 2018, without any problems.”
Currently, Nutripeople produce three distinct products: Nutripeople ONE is suitable for children, adults, and pregnant and breastfeeding women. Highly filling, it improves muscle tone due to its high protein and fibre content and is enriched with a vitamin complex to boost the immune system.
Nutripeople FRUIT is high in fibre, suitable for those avoiding high sugars and fats, and enriched with a vitamin complex. Nutripeople MILK is aimed at children from six months and upwards. One pouch equals one glass of full fat milk.
And the company’s plans don’t stop there. “Already a multi-product line, we are now providing Nutripeople with the equipment and technical expertise to develop even more products in their range,” concludes Francisco. “The Nutripeople project is truly inspirational and we are privileged to be a part of it.”